The Lute Online Resources Portal (LORP): Historical Lutes in Museums



Very, very few historical lutes are in playing condition; the back and neck of a very old lute might well be in stable condition but lute soundboards are thin and usually could not withstand the tension of the strings.

Most historic lutes are in museums. For many years the standard work cataloguing these was Ernst Pohlmann 'Laute Theorbe Chitarrone. Die Instrumente, ihre Musik und Literature von 1500 bis zur Gegenwart' (Bremen, 1968) copies of which can be obtained through second-hand book dealers. There is now an online database of historic lutes, the Lautenweltaddressbuch, by Klaus Martius, last updated in 2007:

Musical Instrument Museums Online, large open database with pictures and information on instruments in museums around the world, including hundreds of lutes:

The International Directory of Musical Instrument Collections, CIMCIM, has a searchable database of historical instruments: including links to many websites, plus details of CIMCIM publications and an index of construction plans available for instruments in public collections.

Lynda’s Sayce’s theorbo site has links to the websites of museums which hold extended necked lutes:

INDIVIDUAL MUSEUMS HOLDING LUTE FAMILY INSTRUMENTS (alphabetical by country and then by city)

Most of these have both a website, possibly with pictures and details of historical lutes, and of course publish printed catalogues, which can be purchased online.


Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum


Brussels, Muziekinstrumentenmuseum,


Copenhagen, Musikhistorisk Museum


Paris Cite de la Musique:
Online catalogue:
Printed Catalogue of lutes on sale at:


Berlin, Musikinstrumenten-Museum:

The Fuessen Heritage Museum:

Leipzig, Musikinstrumenten Museum der Universität Leipzig.

Munich, Deutsches Museum

Nuremberg, Germanisches National Museum.


Milan, Castello Sforzesco:

Rome, Museo degli Strumenti Musicali,


Barcelona, Museu de la Música

Siguenza, Centro de la Vihuela de Mano y la Guitarra Española “José Luis Romanillos”:


Stockholm, Musikmuseet,

Stockholm, Nydahl collection,

United Kingdom

Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments.

London, Fenton House,

London, Horniman Museum,
The Horniman Museum is also the postal address for the Musical Instruments Resource Network, offering guidance and support for those maintaining historical music collections, www.mirn/

London, Royal College of Music,

London, Victoria and Albert Museum (instruments currently in store)

Oxford, Ashmolean Museum:

National Trust Collections (numerous locations)

United States of America

Historical Lutes in North American museums are catalogued on the links pages of the Lute Society of America website:

Boston, Museum of Fine Arts

New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art,

Vermillion, SD, National Music Museum,

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